Authors Supporting Authors

These are the confessions of a book promotion junkie. What follows is a detailed account of Quantu Amaru’s addiction and how he feeds it. Qwantu Amaru says:

One of my favorite aspects of promoting my novel has been the new connections I’ve forged with other authors, indie and otherwise. It gives me great solace to know I’m not out here on this road on my own. There have been many trails blazed by the likes of JA Konrath and his motley assortment of authorrpreneur amigos; the inspiring story of John Locke (the first indie published author to sell a million ebooks); and the guidance of book marketing wizards like Dan Poynter and John Kremer.

There are several collectives and authors supporting authors sites popping up all over like the Indie Book Collective, my publisher The Pantheon Collective, and The World Literary Cafe.

I’m exceptionally grateful to reader communities and author friendly sites like Goodreads (shout out to Tana and the Authors Requesting reviews program); Library Thing (love the Early Reviewers Program), and Shelfari.

And there are the tons of authors I’ve met and interacted with via Facebook and Twitter, many of whom’s work I’ve begun featuring weekly on my site  It’s like there is a literary Voltron assembling itself out here. One comprised of equally strong individual parts that amasses to become something that can defeat all the writers block, naysayers, and other antagonists of prose we writers encounter on a daily basis.

I recently joined Klout and it was very cool to see the people who have influenced me as well as those who I am perceived to be “influencing”. Here’s a list of some of my favorite new author friends, I don’t know which lions are which lol, only time will tell:

If you are an author, reach out and make contact with these folks. And readers, these are the authors on the cutting edge of this independent publishing movement. We may be Voltron, but we still need your support!

***

Qwantu Amaru is the author of One Blood, available wherever books and ebooks are sold. Check out his website at http://www.qwantuamaru.com/index.html

Amazon Sales Tracking App

This information was sent to me by Dave Wooldridge from Electric Butterfly, Inc.

NovelRank for iPhone – the Amazon sales rank tracking app – enables authors, publishers, and book marketers to track and compare the Amazon sales rank statistics for printed books and Kindle Edition ebooks across several Amazon country sites. The app supports tracking through free NovelRank.com user accounts, which can sort books by title, sales rank or last sale. The app also provides a graphical history of daily sales estimates and hourly sales rankings.

If your book’s web site, blog, Twitter, and Facebook Page drive traffic to your Amazon book page, then tracking your sales rank history via NovelRank is a great way to determine if and when your online marketing tactics are effective. It’s also a convenient way to compare your book’s sales rank with competing books.

Available as a free app download on the iOS App Store. If you want to try out the app before creating your own free NovelRank.com account, then within the app, simply assign the user account name to: demo

App Store URL: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/novelrank-amazon-sales-rank/id423938573?mt=8

For more information, visit: http://www.ebutterfly.com/novelrank/

Book Marketing 101 by Bobby Ozuna

Bobby Ozuna is a public speaker,  internet talk show host, co-founder to the READ3Zero foundation for kids, host to blog talk radio’s The Indie Author Show, and the author of Proud Souls. I am pleased that Bobby has allowed me to post this information about book marketing. Bobby says:

By demand and an earnest desire to help the many people who appear lost when it comes to the most effective way to brand or market themselves, I thought I would offer some tips for consideration when working to develop a place for your business, organization or art–outside of the actual product. This is what’s called brand-building.

A vast majority of my work involves authorship, but these tips can be applied to any business venture. If you wish to sale a product, then you have to learn to think beyond the product. It’s not good enough to say (using books as an example) [that] “I wrote a book and now everyone should buy it.” Like any successful business, you have to first consider the consumer. People spend money everyday, on something or many things–some of which are true desires to possess (needs) and others are simply purchases based on a good sale to their desire to own something else (wants).

Here are some things to consider when establishing a brand or marketability within your respective field. I use book publishing or authorship as an example here, but you should truly consider aspects of these examples when working to sell your product, contrary to what that may be.

1. Establishing a Web Presence

What does your website signify and is it created and written (and re-worked on a continual basis) to help search engines (potential customers) find you? How much time do you spend learning about the best ways to optimize (SEO) your website and online presence?

In today’s fast moving society of high-tech gadgetry it isn’t enough for an author to be content with simply “having a book on Amazon” (or any other online retail store). It is not acceptable either for an author to say, “I don’t know how to do this stuff” or worse “I can’t learn it.” Whether you chose to publish independently or had little or no choice to see your work in print, if you plan on making a dent in today’s book buying consumer base, then you will have to learn how to establish (at the very least) a web presence that builds on your credibility of your book(s) subject material. If you aren’t interested in building a website or quite possibly, can’t afford a good web developer/designer, there are many free tools you can utilize. Something after all, is better than nothing at all. Personally, I am a fan of blogs and all their optimization (SEO) functionalities to help you gather customers based on your sites material. Establishing a web presence is easy but maintaining the data and staying current is the hard part, because it requires continual effort. I have listed some points to consider as you design and refine your marketing plan.

Questions you might ask yourself when evaluating your present website and/or blog, including any social networking media you might incorporate.

What does my website signify? What does it say about me as a person or literary professional? Are you utilizing every social networking site for fun, or to help establish your place in relation to your artwork? For instance, many people use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a blog. (These are are great places to start building your online/web presence…hint, hint.) BUT, if you skim through these sites of your fellow author and publisher (and of course, your own material), you might find they are spending an ample of amount of time discussing the weather or their favorite sports game and rarely, if ever, discussing their book’s subject material. If you have a MySpace, Facebook, etc., you want to incorporate links to your storefront, images of your book cover and of course, summations of every blog post for people to navigate to and read. That leads us to one of the most important aspects of developing your web presence: Becoming the expert!

Becoming the Expert:
A major part of branding and marketing your book publishing business is solidifying your expertise within your book’s genre or field. Article writing is by far the best way to get this done. If you have a blog (if you don’t go get one now!) or website, you want to start working on a plan to contribute at least (at the very least) two articles per week about your book’s subject matter. You can use these articles as a means to discuss or share quotations from your book and also interview other people, share tips & tricks or help develop others. These people you help are potential book buyers! If people trust your information, then they will surely trust your book. The more consistent you are with refining and defining your online presence, the greater chance of exposure and of course, possibilities for selling your business’s product: YOUR BOOK!

Branding Tip:
Most of us wrote a book, then worked to develop our credibility for the information. Pretend instead, you were the subject matter expert already who HAPPENED to write a book. If you approach  marketing from this perspective, it will help shed light on new methods for marketing your businesses credibility (you) and your book’s material (book) and ultimately, give way for people (followers) to trust you enough to purchase your product (sales).

2.  Marketability

How are you trying to sell your work and have you determined your actual market? Trying to sell book products to people who don’t read or (let’s say) other authors who are competing against you? Are you working to establish an online presence that is catchy (building on wants) of those who fall into your customer base?

If I said the word marketing and then listed some random words, such as: soda, car & shoe, it would be relatively easy to guess what words or businesses came to your mind when you heard me say them. For soda, you might have considered Coke or Pepsi. For car you may have thought of Ford or Chevy and lastly, for shoe, the odds are pretty good you thought of Nike or at the very least, the Nike swoosh symbol. This is what’s called Top-Of-Mind marketing and branding. Top-of-Mind, being, the very first word(s) or business models that comes to your mind when a list of words are mentioned. When a business is working to focus its attention on a certain customer base or “corner of the market” it is imperative they understand just who their customers are and work within their niche to build an effective marketing plan to target that audience.

As an example, I work for Texas based children’s author (Melissa M. Williams/Iggy the Iguana) but my own work of fiction (Proud Souls) would never be considered for marketing to the same audience. Why? Well, (if it wasn’t obvious) my material is written for adults NOT children. I don’t even tell children much about my book, apart from saying, I’m a writer too! It sounds like a relatively simple thing to do, but if at the end of the day, the name of the game is sales, then why would I spend my time (or waste my time depending upon how you measure the quality and cost of your time) talking about, sharing or trying to sale a product to a consumer base that won’t purchase my product(s)?

This installment deals with marketability or your ability to market a product effectively to a particular customer base. Take these points into consideration and these suggestions as you work (and rework and rewrite) to develop your marketing strategy.

a.) Know your customers:

If you write for children, then you need to be in front of children. You need to create a product that doesn’t always fit WHAT YOU THINK is the best product for a child (or children) but what they like. Get out there and ask them. Meet with kids, conduct author visits, and school presentations and ask them what they think of your product. They are after all your entire customer base. If your book is niche, or based on events or circumstances for adults, then find the people who will identify with it the most, and get their perspective. You can offer books for free, to generate a buzz, get some reviews, offer free readings, etc. 

b.) Appeal to your audience

You don’t want to create a cover that is too adult for children anymore than you want to create a cover that is too childish for adults. Look at other books in your genre and get a feel for cover styles. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the next time  you are in a bookstore. If I read this genre and I walk down that genre’s aisle, what books pop out and grab my attention? Is it a bold title on the spine? Is it an image? Is it dark? Light? The cover design should correlate with your book’s theme, that after all is an old trick of playwriters from ages ago.

c.)  Streamline your visual aids

When you think of shoe, you most likely think of Nike. When you think of Nike, you most likely think of the swoosh sign. This isn’t a coincidence but targeted, planned and effective results of good marketing. If you have a profile picture, it should be the SAME one you use on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and your website. If you have a cover design image on the Internet, it should be the same as well, everywhere. Your business logo on your blog or website should match what’s on your book cover, etc. The idea is to brand one cover design, with one business logo and one author profile picture. That way, when someone sees you on Twitter they may recognize you from Facebook. If they find you posting comments on a book blog, they will recognize you from MySpace, etc. Your job is to make sure people know what you look like, what you wrote, and what your book cover looks like…without thinking twice!

d.) Learn to be convincing–and believe it!
Does one shoe make you run faster than another? Does one energy drink truly make you a better athlete? Does one laptop or personal computer help you work any better than the other? No, no and no…but…the sales and marketing staff at each of these organizations will work to make you believe otherwise. That is the power of a good marketing campaign. If your book deals with overcoming loss (non-fiction) and you have been through devastating loss and rejuvination, then YOU ARE THE EXPERT! You after all, have written a book about the subject! Get out there on blogs, guest blogs, radio shows, Facebook, MySpace, support groups, etc. and remind the people how YOUR information and knowlegde helped save your life…and how it can save theirs too! Period.

e.) Become the expert

I can’t stress this point enough. I read once that if you work at anything (consistently) for five years, you become the subject matter expert. Trust me, it may seem like you’re not at times and because of a lack of sales, you may not feel like the expert, but you are! The little things you learned and forgot you learned along the way are the very things someone else is looking for. Why not be the one who feeds them continuous content to help them get where you are? By posting articles, podcasts, interviews, etc., on a continuous (continous) basis, you are allowing people a chance to trust you and with that trust and learning, will come sales–if you have a product–and what better product to sum up your knowledge than a book?

f.) If I like you–I will like your product

Someone told me once that we write because it is our gift and we work hard at it so the world will fall in love with our work. We blog–or utilize any social networking website–so people will fall in love with us. If you want to sale books you must believe in them. If you want to sale books you must be your books biggest and greatest advocate and NOT sit around waiting on someone else to love it or promote it or believe in it more than you! If you want to sale books, then you have to learn to be personable enough that people LIKE you enough to give your art (your work, your product) a chance. Remember who you were when you were just starting out…how much you loved talking about your book…without query letters, sales pitches, guidelines, etc…? That person could inspire the world without any formal effort. Don’t let the formalities destroy the beauty in your heart…to share with the world what is in your soul.

3.  Credibility

Do you write articles, teach classes, offer lectures, that solidify your expertise within your market? Are you available to help others learn how to do what you are (working) to accomplish? To help others with a serving spirit, doesn’t hinder your ability to make money, but rather opens more doors for opportunity by helping others along the way.

4. Consistency

How often are you working online to develop a TOM (top of mind) marketing presence. As an example, when people think car company, do they think Chevy or Ford? When they think (for example) of your product line, art, book genre, etc., do they think of you or your works title? What have you done to help establish that want, based on your businesses product. Your product is not only your item for sale, but YOU!

5. Time

If you are writing a book or trying to sale a book to make money only, people can see right through that. And that, makes you no different than the hundreds of thousands of other authors on the market. What makes you (YOUR BUSINESS) different than the next? What do you offer a community, a market, consumers, etc that truly makes your business worth investing in–and ultimately–buying your product? I read once that anything you do for five years [you] become the expert at. All of this work takes TIME, but if you believe in your product, if you believe in your passion, etc., then time is in your favor, not working against you.

These are a few of the various points to consider when working to write your marketing plan, develop a marketing model and lastly, create your web model (links to) your various websites.

INDEX OF ALL BOOK MARKETING FLOOZY ARTICLES

floozyI began researching book marketing almost from the time I wrote the first word of my first novel. I read about using bookmarks as business cards and giveaways, sending out press releases, setting up booksignings, but I learned very little about marketing books on the internet. Many of the sites I went to for information about promoting a book free on the internet were simply ads for books about promoting free on the internet. This blog is intended to be a notebook detailing what I discover as I research the topic, including lists of sites for promoting books, articles about blogging, and tips on how to use social networking sites to promote without getting branded as a marketing floozy. Feel free to offer advice. 

  1. Being a Successful Author — Magic or Work? by Sia McKye
  2. Blog Radio by Aaron Paul Lazar
  3. Blogging — Creating a Community for Your Book by Dog Ear Publishing
  4. Book Marketing 101 by Bobby Ozuna
  5. Book Marketing: Branding Yourself as an Author by John Marion Francis
  6. Book Marketing on the Internet: Sites for Writers by A.F. Stewart
  7. Book Marketing Tips From A.F. Stewart by A.F. Stewart
  8. Book Marketing: Writing Book Reviews by Pat Bertram
  9. Book Promotion: Blogging by Pat Bertram
  10. Book Promotion: Establishing an Online Persona by Pat Bertram
  11. The Book Promotion Puzzle by Pat Bertram
  12. Book Publicity for Authors — Getting the Most From Your Publicity Campaign by Dog Ear Publishing
  13. A Bookseller’s Perspective on How to Promote Your Book by Michelle Maycock
  14. Book Stores and Book Signings by Shirley Kennett
  15. Book Stores Are the Worst Place to Sell Your Books by Dog Ear Publishing
  16. Books Don’t Sell Themselves by Sia McKye
  17. A Cheapskate Guide to Creating a Publishing Company by Ken Coffman
  18. Contacting Famous People by D.B. Pacini
  19. Creating a Book Marketing Plan by Dog Ear Publishing
  20. Creating a Teaser Trailer for Your Book by Suzette Vaughn
  21. Different Ways of Marketing Your Book Online by Peter N. Jones
  22. The End of the Book Marketing Business as We Know It? by Claire Collins
  23. Getting Published: No Magic Wands or Treasure Maps by Sia McKye
  24. Guerilla Book Marketing  by Dog Ear Publishing
  25. Help Other Writers be More Visible by Anne Lyken-Garner
  26. How I Did My Book Signing by Christine Husom
  27. How Much Time Should an Author Spend Tweeting, Facebook-ing and MySpace-ing? by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
  28. How to Advertise Yourself as an Author by A.F. Stewart
  29. How to Deal With Well-Meaning Friends and Readers by Laurie Foston
  30. How to Do a Blog Tour by Marshall Karp
  31. How to Set Up a Blog Tour and Why You Should by Alan Baxter 
  32. Making the Most of MySpace by Jordan Dane
  33. The Magic of Social Networking by Pat Bertram
  34. Marketing the Old-Fashioned Way by Sherrie Hansen
  35. More Sites for Marketing Your Books Online by Pat Bertram
  36. The Most Important Word in Book Marketing by Pat Bertram
  37. Negative Reviews: Are They Really Negative? by Marshall Karp
  38. Never Be Afraid to Ask by Ian O’Neill
  39. Notes on Book Promotion by Pat Bertram
  40. One Introvert’s Guide to Reading at Book Signings by Mairead Walpole
  41. Promote Your Work? Why? by Edward Talbot
  42. Radio Interviews and How to Get Asked Back by Chuck Collins
  43. Selling Your Book to Readers — Part I by Dr. Seymour Garte
  44. Selling Your Book to Readers — Part II by Dr. Seymour Garte
  45. Setting Up Author Events and Book Signings by Dog Ear Publishing
  46. So You Want to Become a Published Author by Roger Dean Kiser
  47. Starting an E-Publishing Company by Joan De La Haye
  48. Submitting to Literary Magazines 101: Professionalism by Vince Gotera
  49. Think Outside the Book by Cheryl Kaye Tardif
  50. TK Kenyon Talks About Book Marketing for the Introvert by TK Kenyon
  51. Twitter: How to Use It To Promote You and Your Books by John Marion Francis
  52. What Blogging Platform Should You Use? by Pat Bertram
  53. What are You Doing to Promote Yourself? How Are you Creating Name Recognition? by Sia McKye
  54. When Is the Best Time to Start Promoting Your Book? by Pat Bertram
  55. Writer Cliff Burns Talks About Book Promotion by Cliff Burns and Pat Bertram
  56. Writing Columns and Branding — An Interview with Aaron Paul Lazar
  57. Writing Cover Copy and Book Bios by Dog Ear Publishing

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How to Set Up a Blog Book Tour and Why You Should

Alan Baxter is an optimistic cynic and dark speculative fiction author, based on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. His writing is primarily based in the magical, the spiritual, the religious and the arcane with tendencies towards horror, depravity and battles between light and dark. Baxter says:

A blog book tour is a great way to generate buzz about you and your book. It’s essentially free, it generates a lot of hits on your site and others, and it creates an ongoing interest in your work. As a result of a blog tour, your books and name will gain exposure to potentially thousands of new readers. And all it really costs is time and effort on your part.

Any author, however they’re published, needs media attention. The new media of blogging and social networking is a great tool to use to your advantage. Working with other people, cross posting on a variety of media, gives you a saturation coverage for a period of time that can have excellent ongoing results.

So what is it? A blog book tour is essentially taking your books out on the virtual road, in much the same way that authors would traditionally tour the country, visiting various bookstores promoting their work. In this case, an author visits a different blog every day where they engage in various activities (interviews, guest posts, reviews and so on) and make themselves and their books known to the audience of that particular blog. There’s great cross-promotion as the writer’s audience gets exposed to a variety of blogs they might not have discovered otherwise (which is good for the blog owner) and that blog’s existing audience learns about the author and his or her work.

I currently have two novels out, RealmShift and MageSign, and it was these two books that I recently took on a blog book tour. My books are available in print and ebook format and I also have a novella available as a free ebook, Ghost Of The Black: A ‘Verse Full Of Scum. By taking my two novels on the virtual road, I opened up my both those novels, my free novella and my other work featured on my website to a wide audience that may never have heard of me or my writing before. It also helped to increase exposure to my indie press, Blade Red Press. Building an author platform online is essential for indie authors and a blog book tour like this is a great way to expand that platform.

It helps to offer something special. I really wanted to make an aspect of this tour something attractive — a special offer for people following along. It’s difficult with the print editions of my books through Amazon or places like that to make any changes in the short term. However, all my books are available as ebooks in a variety of places including Smashwords.com. With Smashwords there’s an excellent degree of control for the author/publisher. With any title you have there it’s possible to generate vouchers to vary the cost of your books however you please. So that means that I was able to set up a voucher code that was made available to anyone following the tour, valid only for the duration of the tour. If those people then came to Smashwords to buy RealmShift or MageSign they could enter that code and the books only cost them $1 each, instead of the usual $3.50. Giving very cheap or free content has proven itself many times over as an excellent way of generating interest in new work and it also gives people an added reason to check out the blog tour.

As for how successful a blog book tour can be, it depends on how much work an author puts in? With anything in this game it’s all about how much work you do. It’s also about working smart. If you get involved with a variety of blogs, with a widely varying audience, and you ask those people to promote the tour for you, then a lot of publicity can be generated. You can also make sure that you and those others involved cross-media promote with things like Twitter, Facebook and so on, to attract as many potential readers as possible.

To set up a blog book tour you firstly need, of course, a quality product to promote. Then it’s a case of contacting the owners of blogs that you think are relevant to you and your book. For me it was based on blogs that I read a lot or that are owned by other indies I’ve met or that had a fan base interested in the kind of writing I do, which is speculative fiction. There were also some blogs of friends and one blog that I’m an active contributor to. I contacted them all, asked if they’d get involved and asked what sort of thing they could host for me. I explained how the extra traffic could be a boon for them and then, if they agreed, we worked together to decide what I would do there.

It’s important to have variety. If you just go to a different blog every day and say, “Check out my book!” you’re going to bore people pretty quickly. It was essential in my mind to create something that people would want to follow every day, to see something new each time. The best explanation is to show the itinerary of the tour I did in July. I ended up with a ten-day tour that looked like this:

Day one: Guest post: Dark Fantasy – What is it exactly? – Monday 20th July at The Creative Penn. This is a blog all about indie authorship, but Jo is hosting a blog from me about the genre of my writing. It’s something new for her readers and hopefully interesting for everyone.

Day Two: Interviewed by Leticia Supple – Tues 21st July at Brascoe Books Blog. Brascoe Books is an small press in South Australia, so Leticia interviewed me about the nature of going it alone, the process of editing and so on.

Day Three: Guest post: Writing a good fight scene – Wed 22nd July at David Wood Online. David is another indie author – he writes action adventure novels with a speculative edge. As I’m often complimented on writing convincing fight scenes (my “day job” is as a kung fu instructor) he asked me to write about writing fight scenes.

Day Four: Interviewed by April Hamiltion – Thurs 23rd July at Publetariat. Publetariat is a hub site for indie authors, telling them all they need to know about self-publishing and indie publishing, from print to ebooks to just about everything. This is the site I’m a contributor to already, so April interviewed me about my experiences.

Day Five: Guest post: Demons and where to find them – Friday 24th July at Joan De La Haye’s blog. Joan writes in a similar genre to me and has a fascination with demons. She always has a Demon Friday post where she writes about a different demon every week. In this case, she gave the Friday over to me and I wrote about demons in general. Again, this is something different for her readers as well as being something interesting for those following the tour.

Day Six: Wily Writers published my short story “Stand Off” (featuring Isiah, the protagonist from RealmShift and MageSign) as both text and podcast – Sat 25th July. This was a great result for me, to get a story published and podcasted alone is a great result. To have it key in with the tour so nicely was fantastic.

Day Seven: Ruthie reviews MageSign – Sun 26th at Ruthie’s Book Reviews. This one was a bit of a risk. Ruthie agreed to review the second book, MageSign, and post the review to coincide with her day of the tour. It worked out as she loved the book and gave it 4/5 stars!

Day Eight: Pat Bertram interviews Isiah, the protagonist from RealmShift and MageSign – Mon 27th July at Pat Bertram Introduces. Pat often hosts interviews with the characters from books, which is a great idea. This was a fun one to do.

Day Nine: Guest post: Indie authors and the future – Tues 28th July at Musings Of An Aussie Writer. Brenton is another Aussie author and he asked me to talk about the nature of indie publishing and how I see things progressing as time passes.

Day Ten: Guest post: The inspiration for RealmShift and MageSign, what they’re about and what’s next – Wed 29th July at The Furnace. The last day here is me talking directly about the books, which is the first time on the tour that I’ve done that, and also talking about my future projects.

As you can see, I tried to build an interesting and varied experience for everyone involved to enjoy. Hopefully, with ongoing and interesting content like this, plenty of people will follow your tour, comment on those blog posts and generate lots of discussion and interaction. It will hopefully interest people enough that it also generates a few sales. Mine certainly did.

It was hard work and took a lot of co-ordination with other people to pull it off. It meant keeping in touch with those blog owners, putting together a lot of content for them to host and sending out a lot of reminders to make sure everything went smoothly. But it was worth it. I saw a definite spike in sales of both print and electronic editions of my books during the tour and I’ve hopefully piqued enough peoples’ interest that they’ll remember me and maybe buy my books in the future.

(Incidentally, if you’re interested in any of the articles listed above, they’re still available to read. Another advantage of a blog tour. You can find direct links to all those blog book tour posts, along with a wrap up of some sales and web-hit stats from the tour, here: http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/2009/08/02/blog-book-tour-wrap-stats.html )

The Magic of Social Networking

Writing a book was hard. Editing it was harder, and finding a publisher even harder. Waiting for it to be released after acceptance was murderous, and now promoting the book is . . .

Ha! Bet you thought I was going to say it was hardest of all — most authors find promoting to be an arduous task, but not me. I enjoy it. What’s not to like? I get to meet wonderful people and have wonderful conversations. I get to write articles about anything I want and post them all over the internet. I get to . . . well, those two points are enough. Or should be. My books are still so new that they haven’t developed momentum, but I do believe that social networking is an incredible tool for book promotion.

Goethe wrote, “What you can do, or dream you can, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” So, gather a bit of boldness and begin. Join sites like Facebook and Goodreads. Add friends. Take the time to get to know people by commenting on your new friends’ content, by sharing with links to some of your new friend’s articles and content. And bit by bit the magic happens.

Let me share some of the magic that has happened to me.

I had the honor of hosting Michael Palmer’s very first guest appearance on a blog. How magical is that?

I had the privilege of meeting Bruce DeSilva, the writing coach for Associated Press, who introduced me (virtually speaking) to his wonderful wife, the poet Patricia Smith. Or is it his wife, the wonderful poet Patricia Smith? Either way, a remarkable experience.

I managed to impress award-winning ad exec Marshall Karp with the way I promoted his stop at Bertram’s Blog during his blog tour. Still don’t know how I did that. I just thought I was having fun.

Through one of my Facebook discussion groups, I met Rita Schiano, who is going to interview me live on her blogtalkradio show, Talk To Me  . . . Conversations with Creative, Unconventional People. Being a bit nervous, since I have not spoken before a group of people in decades, I posted articles asking for advice on both Gather and Facebook, and I received the most wonderful tips and suggestions. So if I screw up, it’s my own fault. (One bit of advice I got is to not talk longer than 2 minutes at a time, but it’s probably the one suggestion I won’t be able to follow. I do tend to rhapsodize about social networking. As if you haven’t figured out already.)

Am I bragging? Maybe, but the truth is, I am honored to have met these people and to have shared a moment of their lives. But it would never have happened if I hadn’t created a presence on Facebook and various other social networking sites.

The key to social networking is to be social. Spamming people with mass emails is not social. Nor is setting up a profile and expecting it to run itself. You need to add friends and take time to get to know them. Update your status frequently and include interesting links so your new friends seek you out. Reward those who post great content by leaving a comment or participating in their discussions. You need to take an interest in them. It’s up to you. You can treat book promotion as an arduous task, or you can be bold, give a bit of yourself, and perhaps create magic.

The Book Promotion Puzzle

Writing means many things to many people. It is like a mythic journey into self, other lands, other minds. It is like archeology, like exorcising demons, like channeling, like performance, like a faucet. It is like having an adventure. It is uniquely human, and it brings out the divine in us. It is breathing, a compulsion, a necessity, a reason for living, an obsession, a fun pastime. It is exhilarating and frustrating. It is liberating. And it is like comfort food, chocolate, and cherries. It is like magic.

Because of this mystic connection to their words, other writers don’t seem to understand why I can stop writing to promote my newly published books. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions. Amazing when you think about it, how we can juggle twenty-six symbols in different ways to create words, sentences, paragraphs, worlds. And what one person writes, another can read.

The puzzle of promotion is every bit as intriguing to me as the puzzle of putting a novel together. We are told that to promote ourselves we need to blog, to social network, to participate in discussion forums, to create a presence on the Internet. But these things don’t work. At least not by themselves. How do I know this? If they worked, most authors would be successful enough to quit their day jobs, yet very few writers ever reach that pinnacle. Sure, some authors don’t promote because they prefer to spend their time writing, some are satisfied with what they have achieved, a few are lazy, but most authors are out there promoting themselves every single day with varying results.

I am successful enough at creating my online persona that, moving from site to site, I meet people who recognize my name. I am not subtle about promoting myself, nor am I annoying (at least I hope not). I don’t force my books down people’s throats — I want readers to feel as if they discovered my books, because that will give them a stake in their success.

Despite all my efforts, I feel as if I am missing an important piece of the puzzle, the key piece that makes sense of the whole. What should I/could I be doing that will translate name familiarity (meager though it might be) into sales? How can I go from where I am to where I need to be?

All things take time to come to fruition, so perhaps time is the missing key to the puzzle. Unfortunately, time is one puzzle no one has ever figured out. Which brings me back to that missing piece.

I do know that promotion is as personal as writing. We need to write the book that only we can write. We need to promote in a way that only we can promote. So, how do we find that? I don’t know. Some people are lucky enough to find the key at the beginning. Others are smart enough or knowledgeable enough to figure it out. Me? I will have to find the missing piece the same way I fill holes in my stories: experimentation. Try everything I can and hope I can stumble upon the solution.

(This article was originally published on Vince Gotera’s blog, The Man With the Blue Guitar.